Since opening its doors at the end of 2014 Skye Gyngell’s restaurant Spring has been dividing critics and diners alike. You either love it or hate it, it seems. We loved it, unlike the poor table next to us who hated it and seemed to hate it with the same passion we loved it. We visited Spring in March and simply liked everything from the food, to the location, to the decor and even the much criticised and definitely quirky staff uniforms.
Spring is located in the New Wing of Somerset House and for those that don’t know, Somerset House is the spectacular neo-classical building that sits between the Strand and the River Thames in London. The New Wing was originally designed by Sir James Pennethorne, in 1856, to house the Inland Revenue and has not been open to the public for over 150 years. Spring has taken over the elegant 19th century drawing room, which has been completely refurbished to its former glory. There are large windows on three sides, high ceilings, a long marble bar at the far end and an equally long wooden service counter with vast floral displays along one side. The tables are graciously spaced apart, a real treat in London, the chairs comfy, the lighting gentle (and flattering) and there is no music (another treat). In fact there is no need for music since the acoustics are excellent.
Much like Gastrologik, in Stockholm, Spring’s menu is guided by the changing seasons and the availability of the best possible seasonal ingredients. The results are simple and delicious. In March we were treated to the season’s first asparagus, cooked to perfection and served with fonduta and borage, followed by roasted fresh garlic with goats curd and bruschetta. This was the only veggi-centric main dish on the menu and the idea of a whole garlic bulb in any form is not for the faint hearted, but it was undeniably excellent. The garlic had been slow roasted so that it was deliciously tender and delicately sweet; and it was perfectly tempered by the tartness of the goat’s curd. On the side we had Jersey Royals with poached celery, radicchio and lovage oil, this was excellent and a perfect accompaniment to the main dish. Desserts were equally good and the Citrus tart with crème fraîche, which looked unassuming and even a little dull, was anything but boring – it was exquisite.
The wine list is as comprehensive and as well thought out as the food. There is a good balance of old and new world wines along with a handful of more unusual wines into the bargain. Our main dish (the garlic) was going to demand a lot of any wine and our sommelier was knowledgeable (and friendly) helping us to find a wine that was robust enough to cope with the dish. He made excellent suggestions and our meal was all the more memorable for it.
Recently Spring opened The Salon beside the main restaurant. The Salon is composed of an intimate trio of spaces including the beautiful atrium garden that sits enclosed at the room’s centre with flora and fauna designs by acclaimed landscape designer Jinny Blom. In contrast to Spring, where it is advisable to book ahead, the Salon does not take reservations. Instead it offers small plates, cheeses, seasonal ice creams and wines by the glass, that reflect Skye’s signature ingredient-led style. It is a lovely place to relax with a drink, enjoy a quick lunch or light supper.
For more information and reservations go to: http://springrestaurant.co.uk/
Notes: This is an independent review. Images have been sourced via google.